Birds-of-a-feather at Supercomputing


Creating and providing HPC training for practitioners with diverse backgrounds is challenging, and requires a multitude of educational resources covering different skills. However, the sheer volume does not guarantee discoverability or quality of the content. The main goal of the International HPC Certification program is to ease the provision and uptake of training by clearly categorising, defining and eventually assessing the skills required to efficiently use HPC resources. The session aims to present the current status, discuss the developed processes, tools, and skills, and to ensure community involvement. Anyone interested in HPC education is invited to participate in the discussion.


High Performance Computing (HPC) is gaining reach, as it expands from the “traditional” computationally-intensive domains into fields which have historically had fewer individuals trained in computational workflows and use of HPC. The increasing number of intersecting domains pose additional challenges for HPC - not in compute hours, but in HPC upskilling. HPC practitioners have become more numerous and ‘complex’ from a training perspective. The increasing number of HPC entry points and individualised paths add a layer of complexity for trainers. Seeking to provide a singular training framework that can support HPC trainers, globally, is the HPC Certification program. This BoF provides an opportunity for trainers and others to review Program progress to date and to contribute to the Program’s next milestone.

The HPC Certification Program seeks to establish a common language and understanding of HPC roles and associated skills required for HPC practitioners. Through clear categorisation, definition and assessment, the Program aims to bring transparency to HPC upskilling. No longer will practitioners need to take training that ‘may’ be relevant, but rather they can purposefully seek training based on skills they see they will require to complete tasks. This will both ease and focus the provision and uptake of HPC training.

The HPC Certification Forum, the group which is driving the development of the HPC Certification Program, is making steady progress toward a complete framework. To date they have created over 300 skills. Their work in classifying and defining a Competence Standard for HPC is a world’s first and is led by a core of international HPC trainers. More information about the HPC Certification Forum can be found at

The goal of this BoF is to provide an opportunity for community input. The BoF will open with a short refresher on the Program and its outcomes to date. Attendees will then select a topic on which they will provide specific feedback. Each topic has a definition of competences. As interested parties to and/or technical experts on a topic, the reviewers will be asked to share their insights, experiences and expertise, so that each topic accurately reflects the most valuable and relevant skill set.

For widespread relevance, this initiative needs input, recognition and support globally. To continue the dialog started in this BoF (and ongoing internationally), the BoF will close with a Community Call to Action. BoF leads will seek ideas on how best to not only continue but also build momentum toward identified and agreed targets. Such targets may include an agreed number of topic completions and skill mappings, and/or examination questions (for Assessment).

The BoF is relevant to HPC training providers, educators and trainers, user support personnel, HPC users of different proficiency levels, domain scientists, people responsible for recruitment in academia and industry, and industry representatives. As a result of the breadth, width and depth of HPC practitioners’ needs and impacts, we seek a diversity of opinions. We welcome anyone who may be interested in this conversation to come along and contribute.

We welcome anyone interested in this conversation to participate.


Key information  
When 13. November, 2023


  • Weronika Filinger (EPCC, The University of Edinburgh)
  • Anja Gerbes (TU Dresden, ZIH)
  • Ann Backhaus (Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, Australia)
  • Julian Kunkel (University of Göttingen/GWDG)


The first half of the session will introduce the effort and the general strategy for the skill mapping and examination. The second half will be interactive. Using live polling (mentimeter) we will gather feedback on the existing skill tree, try to identify any gaps and get a better understanding of challenges in categorising and defining skills and learning objectives, as well as contributing to the HPC-CF effort. Using the Mentimeter (or similar tool) will allow us to gather perspective from all attendees in an effective way and provide a good basis for the discussion and further development of the skills tree. It’s also important to make it easier for people to contribute to the effort so some of the questions in the live survey will be dedicated to understanding any potential barriers. The results of the survey will be published on the Forum website.


  • BoF AgendaSlides
    Ann Backhaus
  • The HPC Certification ForumSlides
    Anja Gerbes

The Survey results are available now. The Report is available.